Ralph Johnson (born July 4, 1951 in Los Angeles, California) is an American musician. Johnson serves as the percussionist and vocalist for the R&B band, Earth, Wind & Fire, which he joined in 1971.
 
Johnson has practiced martial arts for over 20 years and holds first degree black belts in both American Tang Soo Do style karate and Kung Fu San Soo.

Biography

Ralph Johnson grew up listening to lots of music as a kid, but he mainly listened to jazz and the popular Motown sound.  He remembers watching a local variety show (The Johnny Otis Show), and patting his hands together to various beats.  His father bought him a pair of drum sticks, which was soon followed by a drum.  Soon more drums followed, and he began to take drum lessons.

Ralph's family moved to Inglewood, California, where he graduated from Mount Vernon Jr. High, in 1966.  He remembers seeing the Forum being built, and envisioned seeing himself playing there one day.  If he only knew what the cards had in store for him.  A few short years later his dream would indeed become a reality.


Career

By 1968 Ralph had become involved with a local veteran showcase called, "Maverick Splash".  He joined a local band called, "The Master's Children".  He vigorously played and honed his drumming skills throughout this formal period. 

One night Maurice and Verdine White dropped by and checked out Ralph's performance, and were impressed.  By late 1971, Ralph received a phone call from Michael Beale (Earth, Wind and Fire's) the group's then guitar player.  Ralph auditioned with Michael Beale and Verdine White, at Michael's house in Baldwin Hills.  

In 1972, Los Angeles, Californian born (July 4, 1951) Ralph Johnson originally joined the legendary band of Earth, Wind & Fire as their then drummer-percussionist-vocalist.

In 1972, Earth, Wind & Fire signed with Columbia Records, and hit the music charts with their first single entitled, "Mighty, Mighty".  This was followed by yet another hit, "Shining Star" and "Sun Goddess" (a Ramsey Lewis contribution).

Next, the band explored the arena of film, by creating a soundtrack for the movie entitled, "That's The Way of The World".  Though the film fell to reach the masses, the music from the soundtrack became an instant commercial hit on the airways.  The film's title song "That's The Way of The World" would become the band's official anthem.


 
Earth Wind and Fire « ♪ Black Music ♫

Ralph fondly remembers working with the late co-founder of the band, Charles Stephey, and discussing arrangements and music theory.  He further credits Maurice White for influencing the young musicians to keep their minds open by exploring the music possibilities around them.

In 1984, when Earth, Wind & Fire took a hiatus from the music industry, the group members split and began to work on various projects.  Ralph Johnson and Al McKay worked with Motown and produced the Temptations hit single, "Treat Her Like A Lady".

The band re-grouped in 1987, and hit the music charts with the hit single, "System of Survival".  For seven years, the band toured and played many countries around the globe.  By 1994, Maurice White decided that he would retire from touring with Earth, Wind and Fire.  Maurice White used his creative energy to form Magnetic Visions to began work on in-house Earth, Wind & Fire collaborations, and more studio productions. 

With Maurice's blessing the newly reformed band took Earth, Wind and Fire on the road without their legendary leader.  The fans embraced their arrival with great excitement and anticipation.  The band has now incorporated a variety of other musicians and dancers to the show.

After thirty years of performing with the group, Ralph can now be found at center stage.   Adding his own brand of slick choreography and smooth vocal stylist artistry to support Earth, Wind & Fire’s signature vocal sound that their fans have grown to love for over the past thirty years.



Ralph is no stranger to the industry, as his resume reads like a who’s who of music royalty.  Besides performing and recording with Earth, Wind and Fire, Ralph has produced and performed on several artists compilations such as: 1978s “Kinsman Dazz” (co-produced), 1978s BLUE MAGIC  “Message From The Magic” (played drums), 1981s STANLEY TURRENTINE “Tender Togetherness” (played percussion), 1984s TEMPTATIONS “Truly For You” and "Treat Her Like A Lady" (co-produced), 1993s JOHNNY ADAMS “Good Morning Heartache” (played saxophone), 1993s CHUCK CARBO “Drawers Trouble” (played saxophone), 1994s TEMPTATIONS “Emperors of Soul” (producer and played percussion), 1997s TEMPTATIONS “Ultimate Collection” (producer), and 1998s TAPE BEATLES “Subtle Bouyance of Pulse”.

On April 25, 2000, Ralph Johnson and Morris Pleasure met in Copenhagen, Denmark to begin a new conceptual jazz project.  Their third intended party was to have been a bassist who had expressed consideration for the project.  The intended bassist had to abandon the project sighting previous obligations, which made it impossible for him to further entertain the ideal.  Nonetheless, Ralph Johnson (drums, percussion and vocals), Morris Pleasure (keyboards and bass) and Steen Kyed (acoustic guitar) prevailed and now comprise the jazz ensemble simply known as, “Auto Caviar" (formerly The Great Dane). 

The first release for the band "Auto Caviar" is entitled, "Transoceanic".  This premiere album showcases other special guests lending their artistry to the band; including, George Duke, Philip Bailey, Janet Jackson, Pam Johnson, Howard Hewitt, Jonathan Butler, Paulinho Dacosta, Gary Bias, and others…




Trajectory

  • (2012) Soul Cal: Disco & Modern Soul, 1971-1982 (Drums)
  • (2012) Think Like a Man (Drums, Percussion)
  • (2011) The Complete Columbia Masters Earth, Wind & Fire (Drums, Percussion, Vocals, Vocals (Background))
  • (2010) Now and Forever The E Family Featured Artist, (Timbales)
  • (2010) Raise!/Powerlight Earth, Wind & Fire Group Member, (Percussion, Vocals )
  • (2010) The Greatest Hits Earth, Wind & Fire (Composer )
  • (2009) Open Our Eyes/That's The Way Of The World Earth, Wind & Fire (Drums, Percussion)
  • (2009) The Music of Earth, Wind & Fire Earth, Wind & Fire (Drums, Percussion)
  • (2008) Gratitude/That's the Way of the World: Alive in '75 Earth, Wind & Fire (Drums, Member of Attributed Artist, Percussion, Vocals (Background))
  • (2008) Howard Hewett Christmas Howard Hewett (Audio Production, Drums, Main Personnel)
  • (2008) Old School Party Pack (Composer)
  • (2008) Original Album Classics [2008] Earth, Wind & Fire (Main Personnel)
  • (2008) The Hurricane Sessions Preservation Hall Jazz Band (Clarinet, Member of Attributed Artist)
  • (2007) If Only... Howard Hewett (Audio Production, Keyboards, Main Personnel)
  • (2007) Last Days and Time/Head to the Sky Earth, Wind & Fire (Drums, Member of Attributed Artist, Percussion)
  • (2007) Live in Tokyo Earth, Wind & Fire (Percussion, Vocals)
  • (2006) Beautiful Ballads arth, Wind & Fire (Drums, Member of Attributed Artist, Percussion, Vocals (Background))
  • (2006) Dark Opus (Dancing With Demons) William Henshall (Main Personnel, Violin)
  • (2004) Live at Montreux 1997 Earth, Wind & Fire (Percussion, Vocals)
  • (2004) Love Songs [2004] Earth, Wind & Fire (Drums, Percussion)
  • (2004) Transoceanic Audio Caviar (Audio Production, Drums, Member of Attributed Artist, Percussion, Wind Chimes)
  • (2003) Let's Groove [Collectables] Earth, Wind & Fire (Composer)
  • (2003) Let's Groove [Platinum Disc] Earth, Wind & Fire Composer
  • (2003) September Earth, Wind & Fire (Composer)
  • (2003) Spirit Rising, Vol. 2: Inspirational [Columbia] (Drums, Percussion)
  • (2003) The Promise Earth, Wind & Fire (Composer, Drum Programming, Percussion, (Producer, Vocals (Background))
  • (2002) Live in Rio Earth, Wind & Fire Percussion, Vocals (Background)
  • (2002) My Girl: The Very Best of the Temptations The Temptations (Producer)
  • (2002) That's the Way of the World: Alive in '75 Earth, Wind & Fire (Drums, Group Member, Percussion, Unknown Contributor Role, Vocals (Background))
  • (2002) The 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: Motown 1980s, Vol. 1 (Producer)
  • (2002) The Essential Earth, Wind & Fire [Columbia/Legacy] Earth, Wind & Fire (Composer, Drums, Member of Attributed Artist, Percussion)
  • (2001) Earth Wind & Fire: The Collection Earth, Wind & Fire (Composer)
  • (2000) Definitive Collection Earth, Wind & Fire (Composer)
  • (2000) Take It! Nixon's Head (Mastering)
  • (1999) Decatur Street Stomp Fessor's Funky New Orleanians (Member of Attributed Artist, Sax (Tenor))
  • (1999) Live in Japan [CD/DVD] Earth, Wind & Fire (Percussion, Vocals)
  • (1999) Raincoast Rumble The Surfdusters (Composer)
  • (1999) The Collection [3 Album Set] Earth, Wind & Fire (Member of Attributed Artist)
  • (1998) Greatest Hits [Legacy] Earth, Wind & Fire (Drums, Percussion)
  • (1998) Subtle Bouyance of Pulse Tape Beatles (Unknown Contributor Role)
  • (1997) In the Name of Love Earth, Wind & Fire (Composer, Cymbals, Member of Attributed Artist, Percussion, Production Assistant, Vocals, Vocals (Background))
  • (1997) Let's Groove Tonight Earth, Wind & Fire (Composer)
  • (1997) Live U.A.B. Gospel Choir Drums
  • (1997) The Ultimate Collection The Temptations Producer
  • (1997) The Very Best of the Impressions [Rhino] The Impressions Member of Attributed Artist
  • (1996) Cowabunga! The Surf Box Composer
  • (1996) Let's Groove: A Dance Collection Earth, Wind & Fire Composer
  • (1995) Let's Groove [Sony] Earth, Wind & Fire Composer
  • (1995) Motown Year By Year: The Sound of Young America, 1985 Producer
  • (1994) Emperors of Soul The Temptations Percussion, Producer
  • (1993) Hitsville USA, Vol. 2: The Motown Singles Collection 1972-1992 Producer
  • (1993) Millennium Earth, Wind & Fire Member of Attributed Artist, Percussion
  • (1992) The Eternal Dance Earth, Wind & Fire Composer, Drums, Percussion, Vocals
  • (1990) Heritage Earth, Wind & Fire (Composer, Guest Artist, Percussion)
  • (1984) Chinese Wall Philip Bailey (Composer)
  • (1984) Mwana Grady Harrell (Percussion, Programming)
  • (1984) Truly for You The Temptations (Percussion, Producer, Rhythm Arrangements)
  • (1983) Powerlight Earth, Wind & Fire (Drums, Percussion)
  • (1981) Raise! Earth, Wind & Fire (Drums, Percussion, Vocals)
  • (1981) Tender Togetherness Stanley Turrentine (Percussion)
  • (1980) Faces Earth, Wind & Fire (Composer, Drums, Group Member, Percussion)
  • (1979) I Am Earth, Wind & Fire (Drums, Group Member, Percussion)
  • (1977) All 'N All Earth, Wind & Fire (Drums, Percussion)
  • (1976) Spirit Earth, Wind & Fire (Drums, Percussion)
  • (1975) Gratitude Earth, Wind & Fire (Drums, Group Member, Percussion)
  • (1975) That's the Way of the World Earth, Wind & Fire (Drums, Percussion)
  • (1974) Open Our Eyes Earth, Wind & Fire (Drums, Group Member, Percussion)
  • (1973) Anthology [1973] The Temptations (Producer)
  • (1973) Head to the Sky Earth, Wind & Fire (Drums, Percussion)
  • (1972) Last Days and Time Earth, Wind & Fire (Drums, Percussion)